When COVID-19 brought his junior season to an early end, Stansbury pitcher Colton Sundloff saw an opportunity, despite his disappointment.
With the remainder of the high school baseball season canceled, the Stallions’ senior relief pitcher went to work refining his craft. By the time the summer season got started in June, he’d added a considerable amount of extra zip to his fastball — and big-name colleges began to take notice. Last Thursday, Sundloff signed with one of the biggest names around, putting his signature on a national Letter-of-Intent to join perennial powerhouse Cal State Fullerton.
“I’ve always known I was going to play college baseball, since I was little,” said Sundloff, who said he had offers from 26 Division I schools. “It was just a matter of where I was going. What made me want to go to Fullerton was the location — Southern California — and their elite baseball program. They’ve got a lot of (national) titles and they get a lot of people drafted.”
Sundloff said his fastball jumped from 88 mph to 94 mph — an impressive improvement in such a short period of time.
“I used COVID as an opportunity for me to go and get better instead of an opportunity to go out and get scouted,” he said. “When it came around to where we could play baseball a little bit more and they could recruit from a TV screen, I was at a different number.”
Thirteen former Titans were on Major League Baseball rosters this season, including infielder Justin Turner and relief pitcher Dylan Floro of the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Other Cal State Fullerton alumni in the majors this season included position players Kurt Suzuki (Washington Nationals), Christian Colon (Cincinnati Reds), Chad Wallach (Miami Marlins), J.D. Davis (New York Mets), Dustin Garneau (New York Mets), Matt Chapman (Oakland Athletics) and Khris Davis (Oakland Athletics), as well as pitchers Thomas Eshelman (Baltimore Orioles), Michael Lorenzen (Cincinnati Reds), Chris Devenski (Houston Astros) and Noé Ramirez (Los Angeles Angels). In all, 68 former Cal State Fullerton players have played in the majors, according to Baseball-Almanac.com.
The opportunity to play for one of college baseball’s premier programs, as well as the possibility of drawing the eye of professional scouts, made the Titans the perfect fit for Sundloff.
“It means a lot,” Sundloff said.. “It’s just on to the next thing for me. I’m super excited and can’t wait to get on the field in college. It’s a good opportunity to keep playing.
“I love this game, so if I can keep playing until I’m 40, that would be great.”
Sundloff has put together solid stats on the mound over the past two years for Stansbury. He allowed one earned run on two hits in two innings during his abbreviated junior season, including a save in a victory over Juab. As a sophomore, he allowed one earned run on five hits in eight innings, good for an earned-run average of 0.88. Opponents hit just .179 against him, and he had saves in region wins over Ogden and Park City.
That success has the Titans looking at using Sundloff in a bullpen role, though he said he might also find a spot in the rotation.
“They like me as a reliever because of my arm slot and my effectiveness in getting people out and closing out games, but they also said I’m good enough to come in as a freshman and get that starting role,” Sundloff said.
Sundloff plans to study biology at Cal State Fullerton, with a potential career as a radiologist.
Sundloff said he has benefited from playing with talented teammates at SHS. Fellow Stallions Cayden Clark and Braydon Allie have also signed NLIs to play Division I baseball at Dixie State University in St. George.
“We feed off each other and make each other better,” Sundloff said.
Sundloff has been playing baseball since he was very young, and he has carried the lessons that he’s learned at every step along the way — whether it was Little League or starring at Stansbury High, where he boasts a .341 career batting average in 49 games played. He also credited his father for helping him to become a better baseball player.
“I remember traveling all over Utah and playing little club teams and crying after games because of the emotions and how much we wanted to win,” Sundloff said of his Little League days. “That helped me with my competitive drive. In high school, going with the boys and getting that teamwork and chemistry down is a big deal. It all helps.
“My dad’s put a lot of work into me, day after day. When this opportunity came, it was really a surprise for us.”